Christianity with no afterlife
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25-02-2015, 06:10 PM
RE: Christianity with no afterlife
(25-02-2015 05:40 PM)mordant Wrote:  
(24-02-2015 02:27 PM)Blackout Wrote:  ... if there was no heaven and hell I think Christianity would never have been so successful for so long in the first place - Hell scares people, and heaven is a worthy moral goal, if we take away these concepts the afterlife vanishes as well, and as such there is no inherent meaning for life because regardless of what you do you'll end up in the same state (after you die), and since god is controlling you, might as well do what you please.

So yes, there would be fewer Christians because you are speculating on the non-existence of one of the biggest pillars of Christianity (probably the third biggest next to Jesus and god)
That's my thought. Christianity is a set of self-reinforcing memes that have evolved to work together. Remove any one key sub-meme and the whole thing is greatly weakened.

I'd say that's not true. Proof; there are over 10000 denominations which all have different beliefs and many of them are quite strong.

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25-02-2015, 06:23 PM (This post was last modified: 25-02-2015 06:43 PM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Christianity with no afterlife
(25-02-2015 06:10 PM)TarzanSmith Wrote:  
(25-02-2015 05:40 PM)mordant Wrote:  That's my thought. Christianity is a set of self-reinforcing memes that have evolved to work together. Remove any one key sub-meme and the whole thing is greatly weakened.

I'd say that's not true. Proof; there are over 10000 denominations which all have different beliefs and many of them are quite strong.

The present beliefs was not his point. The POINT was, REMOVE any key support and it falls apart. The strength of a belief is proof of nothing. Ask any suicide bomber.

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25-02-2015, 06:42 PM
RE: Christianity with no afterlife
(25-02-2015 06:23 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  
(25-02-2015 06:10 PM)TarzanSmith Wrote:  I'd say that's not true. Proof; there are over 10000 denominations which all have different beliefs and many of them are quite strong.

The present beliefs was not his point. The POINT was, REMOVE any key support and it falls apart. The strength of a belief is proof of nothing. Ask and suicide bomber.
Sorry, what do you mean by fall apart. I thought strength of belief was what you were referring to.

I'm homophobic in the same way that I'm arachnophobic. I'm not scared of gay people but I'm going to scream if I find one in my bath.

I'm. Also homophobic in the same way I'm arachnophobic. I'm scared of spiders but I'd still fuck'em.
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25-02-2015, 06:44 PM
RE: Christianity with no afterlife
(25-02-2015 06:42 PM)TarzanSmith Wrote:  
(25-02-2015 06:23 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  The present beliefs was not his point. The POINT was, REMOVE any key support and it falls apart. The strength of a belief is proof of nothing. Ask and suicide bomber.
Sorry, what do you mean by fall apart. I thought strength of belief was what you were referring to.

He said "remove any key meme", NOT strength of belief.

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25-02-2015, 07:05 PM
RE: Christianity with no afterlife
(25-02-2015 05:27 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  
(25-02-2015 11:09 AM)Chas Wrote:  Belief in an afterlife requires a dualistic meaning for 'soul' or consciousness.

Think that's right. The converse however is not.

True. But the word 'soul' is generally meant in a dualistic manner, as something not dependent on the physical.

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25-02-2015, 07:14 PM
RE: Christianity with no afterlife
(25-02-2015 06:44 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  
(25-02-2015 06:42 PM)TarzanSmith Wrote:  Sorry, what do you mean by fall apart. I thought strength of belief was what you were referring to.

He said "remove any key meme", NOT strength of belief.

Right, remove any key meme and it is greatly weakened. What does it refer to?

I'm homophobic in the same way that I'm arachnophobic. I'm not scared of gay people but I'm going to scream if I find one in my bath.

I'm. Also homophobic in the same way I'm arachnophobic. I'm scared of spiders but I'd still fuck'em.
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26-02-2015, 05:55 AM
RE: Christianity with no afterlife
(25-02-2015 06:10 PM)TarzanSmith Wrote:  
(25-02-2015 05:40 PM)mordant Wrote:  That's my thought. Christianity is a set of self-reinforcing memes that have evolved to work together. Remove any one key sub-meme and the whole thing is greatly weakened.

I'd say that's not true. Proof; there are over 10000 denominations which all have different beliefs and many of them are quite strong.
I'm talking about fundamental memes that those denominations share. Deity of Christ, virgin birth, heaven, hell, original sin, substitutionary atonement, verbal and plenary inspiration of scripture, salvation by faith in Christ alone, the basic tri-omni attributes of god, and a handful of others.

Some are more important than others. The doctrine of the trinity for example, while widely held by most of Christendom, doesn't seem so indispensable as hellthreat, although even there, today you don't see denial of the trinity much outside the rather fringe Jesus Only movement to my knowledge. The Unitarians went that route, then merged with the Universalists and in my view left the fold of Christianity by additionally denying hell and accepting atheists and agnostics into their communities and dropped all doctrinal litmus tests and creeds. I think unitarian doctrine is a one way ticket to a spanking from fellow Christians until you recant, even though I think it's a particularly silly and useless doctrine that Christianity could have launched without.

Clearly the hardline literalist stance about scriptural inerrancy is dispensable because fundamentalism is a minority position in Christendom anymore and most Christians are relatively liberal, thanks in large part to the influence of the Enlightenment. But even there one can argue that the liberals can be a bit passionless and maybe the fundamentalists are a necessary driver for missions work and "church planting" and other activities that keep the ol' market share up. Sort of a good cop / bad cop setup.

But most of the other basic premises of Christianity are really mutually reinforcing lynchpins. Historically speaking, I can't see Christianity being dominant in the West without the carrot-and-stick of heaven and hell. Universal reconciliation -- the removal of hellthreat -- is gaining some popularity today by finding ways to tap-dance around the loss of the "stick" by appealing more to the good citizenship and self-help instincts of modern people, but I think that in more superstitious times it was an absolutely indispensable control mechanism to keep the sheeple docile. Indeed, the development of universal reconciliation (UR) is an example of how all these memes evolve as needed to suit changing circumstances. It's no accident that UR is basically a phenomenon in relatively educated, stable countries where the baroque, superstitious notion of hell loses its appeal and starts to cause real problems with cognitive dissonance between the notion of infinite punishment and the supposed mercy and benevolence of god.
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26-02-2015, 07:49 AM
RE: Christianity with no afterlife
(26-02-2015 05:55 AM)mordant Wrote:  
(25-02-2015 06:10 PM)TarzanSmith Wrote:  I'd say that's not true. Proof; there are over 10000 denominations which all have different beliefs and many of them are quite strong.
I'm talking about fundamental memes that those denominations share. Deity of Christ, virgin birth, heaven, hell, original sin, substitutionary atonement, verbal and plenary inspiration of scripture, salvation by faith in Christ alone, the basic tri-omni attributes of god, and a handful of others.

Some are more important than others. The doctrine of the trinity for example, while widely held by most of Christendom, doesn't seem so indispensable as hellthreat, although even there, today you don't see denial of the trinity much outside the rather fringe Jesus Only movement to my knowledge. The Unitarians went that route, then merged with the Universalists and in my view left the fold of Christianity by additionally denying hell and accepting atheists and agnostics into their communities and dropped all doctrinal litmus tests and creeds. I think unitarian doctrine is a one way ticket to a spanking from fellow Christians until you recant, even though I think it's a particularly silly and useless doctrine that Christianity could have launched without.

Clearly the hardline literalist stance about scriptural inerrancy is dispensable because fundamentalism is a minority position in Christendom anymore and most Christians are relatively liberal, thanks in large part to the influence of the Enlightenment. But even there one can argue that the liberals can be a bit passionless and maybe the fundamentalists are a necessary driver for missions work and "church planting" and other activities that keep the ol' market share up. Sort of a good cop / bad cop setup.

But most of the other basic premises of Christianity are really mutually reinforcing lynchpins. Historically speaking, I can't see Christianity being dominant in the West without the carrot-and-stick of heaven and hell. Universal reconciliation -- the removal of hellthreat -- is gaining some popularity today by finding ways to tap-dance around the loss of the "stick" by appealing more to the good citizenship and self-help instincts of modern people, but I think that in more superstitious times it was an absolutely indispensable control mechanism to keep the sheeple docile. Indeed, the development of universal reconciliation (UR) is an example of how all these memes evolve as needed to suit changing circumstances. It's no accident that UR is basically a phenomenon in relatively educated, stable countries where the baroque, superstitious notion of hell loses its appeal and starts to cause real problems with cognitive dissonance between the notion of infinite punishment and the supposed mercy and benevolence of god.

I understood what you meant by key meme I just didn't see what you meant by what is weakened by losing one. The first example you gave was the deity of Jesus which is not universally held (Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, I think) and was only universally held during the Catholic supremacy. Don't forget Arianism was one of the biggest heresies of the early church and it denied Jesus divinity. Constantine himself, was baptised by an Arian.
Just about every thing you listed has been rejected at some point. Hell, as girlyman showed there are christian atheists.

I'm homophobic in the same way that I'm arachnophobic. I'm not scared of gay people but I'm going to scream if I find one in my bath.

I'm. Also homophobic in the same way I'm arachnophobic. I'm scared of spiders but I'd still fuck'em.
- my friend Marc
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26-02-2015, 09:13 AM
RE: Christianity with no afterlife
(25-02-2015 10:05 AM)ClydeLee Wrote:  Where does anyone get the essence of there being some grand forgiveness, grace, or meaningful message in life if there if not from there being more to the world after life? I don't think there is a strong distinction of these topics and afterlife... apart from community

Well, I didn't mean them in a grand sense, but in the very real human sense.

I don't find many christians down in the dumps because of something someone did 10,000 years ago, by eating a fruit. I find that many folks have a hard time forgiving themselves, have found themselves in a predicament of despair and failure, and with inability to find a way out of it. Their lives are the sort occupied by despair and resentment, and second chances appear as impossibilities. And often times it not just a matter of forgiving oneself, but also forgiving others.

Christianity places a great deal of investment in such concepts, starting over, a new sense of life, an emphasis on forgiveness, and grace, whose conceivable reward is in this life, rather than the next.
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26-02-2015, 09:18 AM
RE: Christianity with no afterlife
(24-02-2015 09:52 AM)RobbyPants Wrote:  This thread will pretty much be one of pure speculation, but I got thinking about it and wanted to ask all of you.

Imagine when Christianity was founded that there was no heaven or hell attached to the belief system. Either, when everyone died, there was no afterlife or they all got the same afterlife (picture Hades or Sheol). This would remove the biggest carrot and stick associated with religion. It would also make the idea of salvation quite different, as Jesus would only be absolving people of earthy punishment. That, of course, is quite a bit more testable than notions of eternal salvation. It's pretty obvious that not every wicked person dies or suffers in this life, and plenty of righteous people do suffer.

So, to get to my question: What do you think Christianity would look like in the modern age if there were no heaven or hell taught in the religion? How would that affect the number of believers? How would it affect those that do believe and how they preach?


My guess is there would be far fewer Christians, as it's be a harder sales pitch. For the ones that do believe, I'd imagine a lot of lax believers, as they don't have a constant threat of hell to coerce them into being better. That being said, I could also see a contingent of stronger "true believers" who feel a need to be right just to be right.

For further speculation, it's possible the religion (if it survived) would have morphed to keep itself alive. So, absent of any eternal salvation and any obvious divine intervention, they might take it upon themselves to police the sinners in this world. So, if a Christian punishes a sinner, would that be divine retribution? I mean, this type of thing does exist to this day, and that's with people already believing that God will judge them, anyway.

I'd hypothesize that without the fear or hell or the anticipation of a reward, people would be less fundamentalist and devoutly religious. Or to put it another way, they'd be more secular or more likely to be secular.

They'd probably also be a lot more open-minded about other religions and religious beliefs.

Christians tend to have a closed mind (not surprising for many of us), that causes them to think that their belief system offers them a boost to their moral fortitude and happiness, when the reality is that they have had to convince themselves of that because of the fear of punishment and the desire for reward.

Christianity prays on 2 emotions, fear and greed. Remove the innate fear and greed from the religion, and it becomes far less powerful.

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